The Supreme Court Wednesday in Abuja affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal upholding the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan at last April’s presidential election.
In a unanimous decision, the apex court held that the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) failed to discharge the burden of proof placed upon it by the Electoral Act.
But the flag bearer of the CPC at the poll, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has rejected the ruling and said he was disappointed that the apex court failed to use its powers to address the challenge of electoral irregularities.
The court said CPC failed to prove its allegation that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) did not conduct the election according to the provisions of the law.
It also held that the allegation of non-compliance as alleged by the appellant, the CPC, was not proven and that the burden did not shift to the electoral body or any of the respondents to prove that the allegation of non-compliance was enough to have affected the outcome of the election.
In the lead judgment, which was read by Justice Olufunmilayo Adekeye, the court held that mere allegation of substantial non-compliance by the CPC did not automatically shift the burden to the respondents to prove that the outcome of the election was not affected by such non-compliance.
The court further held that the refusal by the trial court to allow the CPC swap witnesses’ depositions and which the party failed to appeal against took the wind out of their petition in that, there was no evidence in the acceptable format to support the party’s allegation of substantial non-compliance in the election.
Consequently, the court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which upheld the victory of Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo as winners of the last April’s presidential election.
In his reaction, CPC’s presidential candidate in the poll, Buhari, slammed the court for closing its eyes to the abuse of the electoral guidelines by INEC and decried the refusal of the electoral body to allow his party access to materials used by the commission in the conduct of the election to enable the party prove its allegation of malpractices during the election.
He blamed the violence which broke out in some states after the presidential election on such electoral malpractices and maintained that the Supreme Court, which ought to use its powers to address such, had chosen to look the other way in returning a verdict upholding the results of such a marred election.
Excited by the judgment, Jonathan in his reaction said he welcomed the court’s declaration of his candidature as the validly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, that with the unanimous decision of the seven Justices of the Supreme Court, a final seal on litigations challenging his victory at the polls had been put on his mandate.
Jonathan congratulated Buhari for his faith in the Nigerian judiciary where he had gone to ventilate his grievances over the result of the poll and hope that having taken the contest of the result to the highest judicial level which vindicated his (Jonathan) victory, he (Buhari) would now rest his case.
The PDP also described the unanimous judgment as a vindication that the election was credible…(read more)